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Oxfam GB

Human Rights in the Global Information Society by Rikke Frank Jrgensen Review by: James Lawson Development in Practice, Vol. 18, No. 1 (Feb., 2008), pp. 144-146 Published by: Taylor & Francis, Ltd. on behalf of Oxfam GB Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/27751888 . Accessed: 25/02/2013 18:17
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Reviews Development inPractice J8 (2008) DOI: 10.1080/09614520701779114

true and worth pointing out, especially to a general audience that often recoils at the But again the generalisations pose some diffi culties. One issue that Sloan sidesteps with his account of the rationality of terror is how some spectacular attacks (like the Oklahoma City bombings) which have no
clear causal chain towards the achievement apparent senselessness of terrorist violence.


Rikke Frank Jorgensen (ed.) Rights in the Global Information ISBN:

Society Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2006, 324 pp. 0-262-10115-7,

of a particular goal can be deemed rational. Yet Sloan does offer a sophisticated and thoughtfulaccount of the rationale of terror ism and provides a valuable warning not to ascribe too much purposefulness to terrorist action. Underlying the overarching political or religious cause, he reminds us, may be a set of local grievances or unrelated feuds
that drive a person to violence.


Rights in the Global Information Society brings together 12 authors to discuss a variety of issues, including freedom of
expression, 'intellectual property' rights, pol

itical participation, women's rights, and the relationship of all of these issues to the Global Information Society (GIS), by group ing them under threemain themes: freedom
of expression, access to freedom information, of and privacy and protection; association,

The final chapters of the book offer some practical advice for coping with the effects
of terrorist action. Sloan's





sketch out thepsychological impact of terror ist violence and to suggest ways in which individuals and communities might be able
to recover from terrorist violence. In so






devastating incident of terrorist violence. While much of his advice is framed in general terms, it is worthy of the attention of policy makers involved in emergency
preparedness In sum, and homeland The defence. Present Threat in Terrorism:

doing he relies (perhaps too much) on some previous studies, such as the 9/77 Commis sion Report and Douglas Derrer's We Are All Targets. But these chapters do shed some light on the under-studied problem of what to do to help people to get back to work and on with their lives the day after a

An exhaustive introduction by the editor, Rikke Frank J0rgensen, who is Senior Adviser at the Danish Institute of Human J. Drake, who is the Rights, and William Director of the Project on the Information Revolution and Global Governance at the Graduate (IUED)


Institute of International Studies in Geneva, demystifies many of

and buzz-acronyms on the


borders of Information Technology (IT) and Human Rights. This introduction helps to bring the two communities together by pro viding important background for readers
unaware of work carried out at the inter

national level, in particular in the framework of theWorld Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), or readers unaware of the
evolution norms and current status and of human-rights levels. at the global regional

Context is a concise and useful addition to the literatureon terrorism. It is written for a general (not scholarly) audience but has value as a good short introduction to the subject for members of thepublic who seek tounderstand
more about the present threat.


J. Boyle
in International Relations

University of St Andrew's

introduction goes on to provide a thorough overview of the book itself, and the conclusion highlights 'the pressing need for analyses that flesh out the linkages between human rights principles and the since only Information Society', Global when these linkages are clear will Infor mation and Communication Technology policy makers see the need to relate to The

144 Development

inPractice, Volume 18, Number 1, February 2008

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human-rights issues and engage in a dialogue with human-rights organisations. The book as a whole does indeed contribute to establish ing some of these linkages. The quality of the introduction is such that some readers might be tempted to skip some of the chapters that form the body of the
work. Even if the rather academic nature of







cultural, and political perspectives. This rounds off the book nicely, by placing the Society in the big international development picture. One of their conclusions (p.299) is that 'without giving priority at the national and global levels to the need to integrate
information and communication consider human-rights aspects of the Information

some of thesemay require some effortfrom

readers more accustomed

to skip themwould indeed all serve to highlight these In some ways this book many of the contributors

be a pity, as they linkages. is reassuring, for state clearly that general human-rights principles can be applied in the GIS, and that these general principles are defined in the various inter
national to instruments in terms technological are broad enough advances. accommodate

to reading


ations in development, we run the risk of missing out on the important contribution to the development these can make agree with that. This book tends to draw its examples from 'traditional' Internet applications (Web 1.0 and email primarily), which may be due to the fact that most of the chapters were written before Web 2.0 really took off, and
before social process'. Few readers of this review will dis

bodies, when

interpretation by monitoring
they effective, can ade

quately cope with rapidly evolving technol

ogies. In other ways this book raises concerns,

content really hit theWeb,

we other The could call the are, aspects Web in my




including what
web'. But opinion, lacking.

'human-rights and

alerting us to the growing tendency to reduce the role of the judiciary in this 'globa lised world'. As Meryem Marzouki puts it in her chapter on 'the Guarantee Rights for realizing the rule of Law' (p.213), 'this ten dency is the result of a globalized world, more and more ruled by economic regulation
and market forces, and where states

are increasingly leaving their sovereign pre rogatives in the hands of private parties, promoting so called self-regulation and
co-regulation efficiency'. procedures in the name of

develop through the Internet: via our TVs (we watch TV programmes piped through the Internet) and via our mobile phones (we surf theWeb and email); data are piped millions of CCTVs, and technologies through W3C are utilised developed by interalia the to exchange data between intelligence agencies, in farmore complex technological

is everywhere,


scenarios than those used by cyber criminals. In a book which highlights the dangers of in his interesting ICTs, Charley Lewis, on 'The chapter Right of Assembly and
of Association', considers the



remark echoes discussions

debates and on the role the efforts by certain

in other
of non govern

human-rights state actors,

ments to limit their own legal responsibility for securing human rights by claiming that they have no control over the actions of The final chapter, by Ran Greenstein and Anriette Esterhuysen, is perhaps the one that will most interest readers of Develop ment in Practice, as it deals with 'the right to development in the Information Society' Development
private parties.

ways in which various groups have used ICTs to join forces, and the ways in which repressive regimes have tried to control this
activity. activist means He who quotes says: a Mexican 'e-mail between is very human-rights as useful groups'. a

of contact


Maybe other readers will feel the need for just one chapter highlighting the positive impact of the Information Society, because it is true that civil society has benefited enor
mously from these


few human-rights defenders would



inPractice, Volume 18,Number 1, February 2008 145

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think itpossible to do theirjob todaywithout the Web and other ICTs. This is a book that lawyers and 'teenies' alike should make an effort to read, although the effort for 'techies' will be much greater than for lawyers. The language is legal, the references are legal, and thewhole approach rather academic. This may be all right for
in Academia, or for whether policy makers, students but or for researchers, readers


series ences of


and his




present a
experi African

of useful

countries as diverse as one is likely to find

anywhere. Liberia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone,

of community analyses violence in a range of

Sudan, Ethiopia, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Kenya, and the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo all get a mention.
Each well-selected research

people writing the code for programmes that are the foundations for this Information Society, this book may be more frustrating than enlightening. One
the multitude

example of this is
and references -

the in-depth analysis of a particular aspect of a conflict microcosm within its historical context, offering outsiders a rare glimpse of
process, of forces the complex and dynamics and complicated array con



the deeper roots of African society. In the

that characterise

more than 500 - which, even if the authors were obviously invited to provide links to in this real works published on theWeb, world time, hyperlinked represent almost as 404s broken links). many (aka

of footnotes

flict and violence inAfrica expose academic arguments and media portrayals of Africa as an increasingly dark continent as littlemore than the 'recycling of legends of an African cultural and political essence going back to the age of high Imperialism'. In particular, the excellent piece on Sierra Leone by Paul
and Kaarsholm's own contribution,

James Human

Lawson Rights Information and Documen

tation International (HURIDOCS)

Versoix, Switzerland


describing a piece of field research in the blood-soaked aftermath of KwaZulu Natal's killing fields, remind us of just how interwo
ven are

tional politics, gender, and power; and how

Development in Practice 18 (2008) DOI: 10.1080/09614520701779122 history, and

the dynamics



genera serve as

threads that bind the social weave

contain the potential for violence.





Kaarsholm (ed.) Violence, Political Culture and inAfrica Development Oxford: James Currey, 2006, ISBN:


Throughout the book there is a clear and obvious central theme: the need for deeper and political forms of exclusion that lie at the roots of every conflict. JocelynAlexander, in her piece on 'Legacies of violence in
analysis of the historical, social, economic,

0-85255-894-5 Scottsville: University of KwaZulu-Natal Press, 2006, ISBN: 1-86914-116-4 Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 2006, ISBN: 08690-251-5

Matabeleland', provides useful insight into how the rewritingof history is used to shape
narratives Koen that become a tool for manipulation. on 'Conflict and describ Vassenroot formation writes in Eastern

Preben Kaarsholm
about 'African of priateness


several myths
the 'inappro for


barbarism' democratic

government debate

African societies'
contribution to the

in this deeply interesting

controversial on

ing the process by which violence becomes a form of identityfor excluded youth, thus alie
nating stream actors informs themselves local at even further from main between Relationships that and the power the micro-level, societies. are seen as central both in


the roots of conflict and violence and the contradictions of development inAfrica. 146 Development


inPractice, Volume 18, Number 1, February 2008

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